|Clemens wins No. 350; A-Rod leaves with hamstring injury|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 02 July 2007 23:36|
``I enjoy sharing it,'' he said.
Still, what Clemens wanted most Monday night was a healthy Alex Rodriguez.
The Rocket reached a rare milestone with a vintage performance, pitching eight innings of two-hit ball and leading the New York Yankees to a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
But the Yankees' excitement over his achievement was tempered by Rodriguez's strained left hamstring, which forced the star slugger out of the game.
``It was not good, and that's the downer of the night,'' Clemens said. ``We need him.''
Clemens became the first major leaguer to win 350 games since Hall of Famer Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves accomplished the feat by beating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 on Sept. 29, 1963 - just more than a year after Clemens was born. Yankees manager Joe Torre was Spahn's catcher in that game.
``I'm not as old as I thought I was,'' Clemens said with a wry smile.
Bobby Abreu hit a tiebreaking homer and finished with three hits for the Yankees, who won for only the third time in 12 games. Rodriguez got his 80th RBI on a first-inning grounder, then left in the sixth after an awkward play at first base.
Rodriguez tripped over first baseman Justin Morneau's ankle while beating out a potential double play. He remained in the game and advanced to second, but told third base coach Larry Bowa he wouldn't be able to score on a single.
That's when Torre pulled Rodriguez, who was limping slightly in the clubhouse after the game. His leg was wrapped and he was scheduled for tests Tuesday. He said he didn't know how bad the injury was.
``We're going to sleep on it and see how it feels in the morning. Right now it's just a little sore, tender,'' Rodriguez said.
An extended absence for A-Rod would be a huge blow to the Yankees (38-41), struggling through a woeful season despite his big year at the plate. New York still hopes to fight its way back into the playoff race.
``Yeah, I'm concerned,'' Torre said. ``I just hope it's not going to be a long-term thing.''
Miguel Cairo replaced Rodriguez. The last time he was on the disabled list was in July 2000 with Seattle, because of a right knee strain.
``That's something we're going to definitely try to avoid,'' Rodriguez said.
In a turn-back-the-clock gem, Clemens (2-3) retired his final 15 batters after Joe Mauer's leadoff double in the fourth. With his wife, Debbie, in attendance, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner struck out four and walked one in the longest outing of his latest comeback this season.
He pumped his fist after striking out his last hitter and walked off the mound to a loud ovation from the crowd of 53,036 as Elton John's ``Rocket Man'' played over the loudspeakers.
Clemens, who will turn 45 next month, is 350-181 for a .659 winning percentage - second among pitchers with 350 wins to Christy Mathewson's .665 mark.
``I'll probably look at the history at another time,'' Clemens said. ``This is no time for me to take a breath. For me, this is a tremendous amount of work.''
Can he get to 400 wins?
``I don't see that happening,'' Clemens said.
Then again, he didn't expect to approach 350 when he first retired after the 2003 season with 310 victories.
The Rocket lost his previous three starts after winning his season debut against Pittsburgh. He even failed to strike out a batter in his most recent outing, a 4-0 loss at Baltimore. That ended a streak of 200 consecutive starts with at least one strikeout.
This time, Clemens outpitched Minnesota's Boof Bonser (5-5), who fell to 0-3 in four starts since beating Washington on June 10. It was his second loss to the Yankees this year.
All-Star Torii Hunter struck out once and grounded out twice against Clemens, leaving him 0-for-25 with 14 strikeouts in his career against the right-hander.
``His split was moving like crazy. It was like it wasn't even real,'' Hunter said. ``He releases it like a fastball and you can't really tell. Some guys can - but not me.''
Clemens, eighth on the career wins list, threw 67 of his 97 pitches for strikes. After closer Mariano Rivera got the final three outs, the scoreboard flashed congratulations to Clemens.
Abreu connected in the sixth, and Derek Jeter bounced a two-run single under the glove of third baseman Jeff Cirillo to make it 5-1.